Teaching TEFL in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Many people will agree that having a TEFL teaching qualification is like having a second passport because it allows you to gain access to a multitude of countries you might not ordinarily visit. If you have one, a great place to experience an old culture steeped in tradition while earning a tax free salary is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Here is a brief outline of the things you should be thinking about before you apply:

  • Usually any type of degree is accepted although, for TEFL, a humanities degree is preferred along with a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or Trinity teaching certificate and some teaching experience. An MSc in Linguistics and a publication record will also improve your chances of getting a higher paid job as will a first degree along with an MA Education. Experience teaching Arabs will also open doors as will a smidgeon of Arabic.
  • The communicative language teaching (CLT) method is still the mainstay of teaching English in KSA as it is in many parts of the rest of the world. This emphasizes interaction and problem solving as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning English. As such, it tends to focus on activities such as pair work, roleplay and working in groups.
  • The Presentation, Practice, Production (PPP) model is also used in Saudi universities and schools where English language programs are taught. Thus a teacher will present a language structure or tense (e.g. present simple), will give the students practice in using it, and at the end, the students will be required to produce an example of what he/she has learned.
  • The salaries for these jobs for native speaking women are from 8,000-14,000 (£1350- £2200) Saudi Riyals (SARs) a month. For native speaking men, the salaries are from 10,000-25,000 (£1,690- £4,220) SARs a month. All are tax free with lots of additional benefits like free housing, flights and medical.
  • While native speakers are preferred, especially in the more well-known universities and colleges, there are many other options for non-native speakers such as in local and international schools e.g. as a Learning Support Assistant, a Teaching Assistant or as a Homeroom Teacher. The salaries for these jobs are paid considerably less however – 3,000-7,000 SARs (£507- £1,181) tax free a month for women and 5,000-10,000 SARs (£844 - £1,690) for men with few additional benefits.
  • The law has also recently changed allowing spouses of existing KSA employees with residency permits (iqamas) the opportunity to work in the country. If you wish to join your spouse, you will need to have the relevant experience and your qualifications attested by a Saudi Embassy in your home country. Many western women do these jobs more for the social aspect than the salaries e.g. because it’s better to be active than bored staying on a compound during the daytime.


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